Restaurant News & Reviews

Live rodents running, flies on cooked pork and restaurants that got shut down

A statewide look at Florida’s top restaurant violations for 2016-17

Restaurant inspections ensure food retail establishments are in compliance with state sanitation and food safety procedures. Here are the top ten violations inspectors found between 2016-17 in Florida restaurant kitchens.
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Restaurant inspections ensure food retail establishments are in compliance with state sanitation and food safety procedures. Here are the top ten violations inspectors found between 2016-17 in Florida restaurant kitchens.

This weekly presentation of the Sick and Shut Down List, comprised of South Florida restaurants that got closed after state inspections is compiled from state inspections of restaurants in Miami-Dade, Broward, Monroe and Palm Beach counties. We don’t control who gets inspected or how strictly the inspector does his/her job and we present it without passion or prejudice.

In alphabetical order...

Express-O-Cafe, 4767 NW 36th St., Miami Springs — On Oct. 4, the inspector, “Observed cases of bottle drinks on the floor in the storage room with evidence of vermin present. Food stored in dry storage area not covered. Observed a container of white rice without covering.”

That paragraph contained an indication of why those storage shortcomings aren’t just picayune problems to be dismissed with “picky, picky.” The inspector also saw, “Observed approximately 15 moist rodent dropping in the storage room by front counter (remember the bottle drinks on the floor?) Observed four dry rodent droppings in storage room by kitchen.”

It was noted that there’s no separation between the storage room and kitchen.

The inspector watched an employee working with cash, as filled with germs as value, then get down with food prep without washing hands.

Speaking of handwashing, the handwashing sink couldn’t be used because plastic utensils were there. And inside of a reach-in freezer was “soiled with accumulation of food residue.”

The handwashing sink was cleaned out and the reach-in was cleaned. But would said corrections have been made if the inspector wasn’t there? (This won’t be the last time we ask that question...).

Thursday’s fail was followed by Friday’s passing of the re-inspection.

Fratelli’s Italian Grill, 6600 W. Atlantic Ave., Delray Beach — When the inspector doesn’t find your rodent, but finds your rodents’ restroom, you’re probably looking at an early closing time. Such was the case at Fratelli’s Sept. 28.

“Two fresh rodent droppings, approximately 20 dry rodent droppings inside cabinet below coffee and soda dispenser.”

Meanwhile, the roaches ran like water: “over 50 live roaches in reach-in cooler gasket at cook line, approximately 10 live roaches underneath floor mat at cook line, two live roaches in oven by the wall at cook line...”

A few roaches didn’t make it. “Four dead roaches by the walk-in cooler, one dead roach by the ice machine, one dead roach on floor at kitchen...16 dead roaches inside cabinet below coffee and soda dispenser.”

In the walk-in cooler, tomato sauce, minestrone soup and lentil soup had no top on them. No date on them, either.

The tomato sauce had been there more than four hours and was at 51 degrees when it needed to be under 41. The inspector dropped a Stop Sale on that lukewarm mess.

No soap, paper towels or mechanical hand drying device were provided at handwash sink at dishwashing area.

The ice machine had a familiar “accumulation of black/green mold-like substance” inside. The pizza dough mixer head suffered from an “accumulation of encrusted food debris on/around mixer head.”

More yucky accumulation, “Interior of reach-in cooler heavy soiled and slimy with accumulation of food residue at cook line reach-in cooler.”

Speaking of residue, “Soil residue in food storage containers....squeezed bottles, pitcher at kitchen.”

On the first callback inspection Sept. 29, Fratelli’s failed, partially because of “six live roaches in attached draining tray below reach in cooler at kitchen and one dead roach under the dishmachine.”

Second chance, same day, Fratelli’s passed.

Fruteria Latin Proud, 4290 E. 4th Ave., Hialeah — No spiders or snakes. But rodents? Oh, yes. ”Observed approximately 20 to 30 non-dull, soft and shiny rodent droppings on shelving inside dry storage area located outside.” That’s the same dry storage room referred to when the inspector saw “canned food items, bags of dry beans, boxes of cooking oil, foam trays, bags of sugar, plantains and potatoes all stored outside at a dry storage room that is not fully enclosed.”

Insects, too. Ground bound: “...approximately 50 to 70 live ants crawling over food boxes containing cooking oil stored outside at dry storage room” — and ones that fly: “...approximately 30 to 50 live flies flying on top of a box of plantains and potatoes, stored outside at dry storage room.”

Inside, one fly kept landing on clean pots and pans and four kept dropping down on cooked fried pork at the service food line.

Meanwhile, Stop Sales were dropping like lizards out of trees on a cold morning.

Not kept cooled properly to 41 degrees in an apparently ineffective reach-in cooler were sliced ham; sliced cheese; ham; raw fish; raw steak: shredded lettuce; and cooked shrimp ceviche. located inside a reach in cooler used to prep sandwiches at main kitchen area. Rice pudding in a self-service area was at 55 degrees, as was sliced watermelon.

And in the walk-in cooler and walk-in freezer, raw food items uncovered.

“No container installed for catching grease from hood drip tray. Located at cookline located directly in front of reach in cooler used to prep sandwiches.”

“Wiping cloth chlorine sanitizing solution not at proper minimum strength.” Or, any strength — it measured 0 ppm.

They came correct on the Oct. 2 re-inspection.

La Criollita, 3701 NW 79th St., Miami — Roaches get everybody’s attention. Poorly washed hands get people sick.

So, as far as the attention-getters, the inspector saw, “two live roaches near handwash sink located in middle of main kitchen live roach on shelving above the three-compartment sink....three live roaches under three-compartment sink near water pipes.”

As for the unwashed hands of fate, the handwash sink in the back food prep area lacked soap or any way to dry hands. The handwash sink behind the front counter lacked another element in proper handwashing.

“Observed no water flowing from hot water faucet when faucet handles were turned on, at handwash sink located behind front service counter,” the inspector wrote. “Observed employee turn water back on from underneath sink, and tempted hot water at 100.1 degrees Fahrenheit.

Also, this violation seems to be a popular one of late: “Bowl or other container with no handle used to dispense food. Observed foam cup inside a container of cereal with no handle.”

This was Friday. La Criollita got it right Saturday and were back open.

Mel’s Way Bistro & Bar, 3536 Via Ponciana, Lake Worth — There were two roaches running around the cookline floor and 10 hanging out by the dishwasher sanitizer container.

Did that gang of roaches sabotage the dishwasher? It wasn’t sanitizing. The sanitizer measured 0 ppm.

So, the new food cut by the slicer blade that had old food stuck on it was going on plates not properly sanitized. That sounds like a little too much connection between the present and the past.

Stop Sales dropped for the following: butter, garlic oil, shrimp, heavy cream. Roast beef left in the oven overnight was at 101°F. Don’t think that’s intended to be slow roasted..

Mel’s Way got it going the right way for Friday’s re-inspection.

Nikki Hampton Edwards Catering & Planning, 3185 NW 207th St., Miami Gardens — Light on the overall violations while being heavy on the rodent violations.

Bad enough that the inspector sees “three-plus soft rodent droppings on the side of the deep fryer. Approximately seven-plus hard, rodent droppings on the side of the deep fryers; approximately five hard rodent droppings in the dry storage area.”

But, then, he saw: “one live rodent, in the kitchen running from behind the stand up refrigerator, under the pipe. by the handwash sink.”

Deep fryer compartment was broken. But it was the rodent making a run from behind the fridge that got Ms. Edwards’ business shuttered for the day.

She was back at it after Friday’s re-inspection.

Ocean Five Bistro, 444 Ocean Drive, Miami Beach — The Oct. 2 inspection came back “Administrative Complaint Recommended,” which is a few Basic violations, two cockroaches and a bad mood from being shut down for the day. So what happened when the inspector returned on Friday? Same thing. What happened when the inspector came back later Friday?

“At the time of the callback inspection observed in front counter approximately four flies flying above prep area landing on bottles of oil and approximately two flies flying in back kitchen area and about seven flies in the ware washing area landing on top of clean pots/pans.”

We’re sure the flies left nothing behind when they landed on that no-longer-clean cookware.

There was “one dead roach on floor near oven and three dead roaches in area near bar,” but that wasn’t the only bothersome problem in the bar area.

“In-use ice scoop stored on soiled surface between uses at bar.” And more evidence that cold mixers are the future of mixed drinks, “observed ice machine soiled with black debris.”

Also, “encrusted material on can opener holster.”

Also, somebody’s ersatz Roto-Rooter man wasn’t getting it done: “Plumbing system improperly installed or repaired. Observed coffee machine drain line draining into bucket. Observed condensation from interior of reach in cooler leaking into a catch bucket.”

Ocean Five got a time extension on Saturday’s re-inspection.